As we reflect on the 39th anniversary of Title IX, which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we celebrate a milestone that has caused a revolution in the field of sports and education. By breaking down doors that were previously closed, the law – a mere 37 words in total – provides equal access for women and men in federally-funded education programs and activities, including sports.
For 39 years, Title IX has expanded opportunities for women and girls by making it illegal for secondary, post secondary educational institutions, and other schools to discriminate against an individual because of their gender.
Though Title IX is commonly associated with the sports industry, it has also played a critical role in increasing access for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Women today have made great strides in obtaining a college education, and continue to narrow the gap with men in earning STEM degrees.
President Obama, Secretary Solis and the Women’s Bureau have been focused on strengthening opportunities for women and girls in STEM, green and innovative jobs. The President’s call to action on innovation includes an increase in STEM literacy, a transition of students from the middle of the pack to the top in the next decade, and an expansion of education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and girls. He reminds us that we must out educate and out innovate the rest of the world if we are to successfully compete in a 21st century global economy.
The Women’s Bureau also is working hard to connect women to the growing, yet underrepresented field of green jobs and other high-paying fields. We have advanced opportunities for women and girls by hosting roundtables and national teleconferences on these topics.
This summer, the Women’s Bureau will be releasing, Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career, which will provide women with the information they need to succeed in the developing green economy, including the challenges and benefits to educational opportunities in the green sector.
While great progress has been made in leveling the playing field between women and men, equality is not yet a reality. We must continue to fulfill the pledge of Title IX in order to bridge the gap of opportunity between women and men and pave the way for the next generation.
In our journey, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, remember how far we still have to go, and recognize our national commitment to support equal educational access for our girls.
Sara Manzano-Díaz is Director of the U. S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau